When Algorithms Help Your Dreams. How LEGO & Motorsport brought me to Michèle Mouton.
Updated: May 4, 2020
Here is my story of how my love for LEGO, Motorsport and female leaders brought me to the Patron Saint of Rally Racing, Michèle Mouton.
It is an undisputed argument that technology is pretty scary. Alexa listens, The Matrix is non-fiction, and algorithms manipulate you. Every social media platform, in my case Instagram, conspires against you in order to sustain your dreams and desires in hopes for you to buy something from someone else. However, all of this #BigBrother in 1984 type of surveillance has finally worked to my benefit. This is my story of how an Instagram algorithm guided me to learn about Michèle Mouton, the most badass chick in motorsport also known as the Patron Saint of Rally Racing, while I was doing a LEGO build.
In case you still live an analog life, this is how an algorithm was used on me. The majority of my likes and comments revolve around my love for motorsport, my new obsession with building LEGOs, and the occasional female empowerment post. Insert a Skeletor like evil laugh and BOOM! a Michèle Mouton LEGO minifigure popped in my feed.
In an effort to promote gender equality in motorsport Audi and LEGO decided to commemorate 40 years of the Audi Quattro and honor Michèle Mouton, the first and to date, only woman to win a race in the World Rally Championship. She won the San Remo Rally in 1981 driving an Audi Quattro during her first year as a driver for Audi.
From March 6th through the 9th, mind you March 8th is International Women’s Day, Audi Spain released the #ElPilotoEsElla or #ThePilotIsHer campaign collaboration with LEGO; a limited edition minifigure resembling Mouton. This minifigure is NOT for sale. Only those who completed the LEGO set of the Audi Quattro S1, the rally car which Mouton became a legend in the 1980s, shared it with the #ElPilotoEsElla hashtags, and live in Europe qualified to get the minifigure FOR FREE.
So what did I do? Like any self-respected female motorsport enthusiast who champions women doing men’s jobs would do, I bought the LEGO kit and built it.
It is no wonder why these two companies joined efforts. Audi has been vocal about achieving gender equality within their company through their advertisements, especially those airing during the Super Bowl. Most recently this year it was with Maisie Williams, best known as Ayra in Game of Thrones, driving their new all-electric Audi e-tron. However, my personal favorite Audi commercial was their 2017 Super Bowl Ad.
This sixty-second segment titled Daughter, showcased a dad supporting his little girl’s dream at a homemade go-kart competition. In the commercial, the father raises some potential issues his daughter will face when she grows up such as gender inequality, sexism, and body shaming. Regardless of the horrible reviews the ad campaign received, it is a great commercial that brings to light the nastiness women all over the world face. I am of the belief that the first step to correct those wrongs is by acknowledging them. Even though Audi has faced criticism over their own gender inequality within their C Level officers and board, you have to give them credit for trying to rectify the situation.
LEGO is another company that aims to achieve gender equality with its products however the road has not been easy. They did a four-year study on how boys and girls play with toys which at the end concluded that it is a fact that boys and girls do play differently. Whether the reason behind kids playing differently is caused by gender bias brought by parents or culturally, it is an interesting subject which can be discussed later. The bottom line is both Audi and LEGO recognize and are trying their best to come up with solutions to communicate better with girls and women.
Now, to my greatest discovery, Michèle Mouton. To my own embarrassment, I recently realized I had read about Mouton a couple of weeks back when FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission released a brochure titled Your Career in Motor Sport. She has been the president of the FIA’s Women & Motor Sport Commission since 2010. The Commission was created in 2009 to promote, empower, and invest in women taking part in the motorsport industry internationally.
Mouton has a fabulous story, raised by parents who grew roses and jasmine in a town on the French Riviera, she had no interest in motorsport until she helped a friend practice for a rally race, later becoming his co-driver. Her father believed she could be a driver rather than a co-driver so he bought a car for her and financed her for one year. She exceeded everyone’s expectations because by the end of her first season she picked up sponsors. During her rally racing career between 1974 through 1986, she won 4 rally races, took 9 podiums and finished runner-up in the driver’s world championship in 1982. This success is the reason she is called the Patron Saint of Rally Racing.
As soon as I learned all of this and even though I do not qualify to get her minifigure because I do not live in Europe, I bought the LEGO Audi Quattro rally race car kit. Due to COVID-19 it took a while to arrive however I finished my build in less than an hour. Learning about badass women, like Mouton, makes me love motorsport even more. It is no longer about the speed or the engines or the beautiful sound an engine makes but rather the passion that emerges when you speak to others that love cars and racing. Also, the amazing women I’ve gotten to meet along the way. It’s finally a space where I no longer feel out of place. While I wish I knew more about cars, engines, and drivers I’ll focus on the women; the Petrol Heroines who have paved the way and the women who are currently racing in order to obtain that world championship.
Photo Credit: Audi Spain